>It’s so easy to become the bad guy. And it’s so easy not to. Just a few seconds either way, really. Do you push the button, cut the cable, let the secret slip. Or does someone else do it first. As to which I am, well I can’t really tell you that.
It’s all relative, supposedly. Lecturers in large halls asking us how many lives are worth the torture of one. Us, nestling safely in our untainted minds, being shown real human suffering week after week and laughing it off. Parties, jokes, all that damn coffee.
And, it turns out, I’m one of those people whose hair makes a mark on a bus window. Unwashed for how many days now? It’s one of those rainy mornings anyway, where all that human heat makes condensation bead on rush hour glass, all those droplets squabbling together on their religious journey to the bottom of the window.
Unclean, I suppose, is the word. The dirt of a long day settling down on me. Eyes full of radiation. Aches radiating up from my feet. And all that romantic dyslexia beating away in my belly. He sat by me again today. Left handed, scrunched over his lecture pad. Beautiful beautiful left-handed scrunched-over boy. I spent ten minutes lost in a line of chopped hairs on his neck.
The bus lurches, my own head snaps back and forth. I should have sat next to him. The only place more embarrassing than two seats away would be right in his lap. He looked up as I sat down and I really was just another guy in just another lecture. The words back-burning my throat for an entire forty minutes. Then, right at the end, when he had to get past me to the aisle, I went to say something, anything, all the world’s carefully worded phrases fluttering straight from my head. And I’m starting to talk, and he’s brushing past me. ‘Scuse me mate.
Me, the fucking human slalom course. I ran straight to the toilets two floors up because I know they’re always quiet and I leant against a sink and hit my head over and over with the palm of my hands, willing myself to disappear.
We’re nearly out in the rain now, just waiting at the lights, the nose of the bus edging out from underneath the busway, leaving the speed-controlled, time-tabled confines of the inner-city, ready to fly out to those highways, to those blank slates of suburbia.